Grounds for annulment in the Philippines

What are the grounds for annulment?

1. Lack of parental consent in certain cases. If a party is 18 years or over, but below 21, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents/guardian. However, the marriage is validated if, upon reaching 21, the spouses freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife.

2. Insanity. A marriage may be annulled if, at the time of marriage, either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

3. Fraud. The consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife. Fraud includes: (i) non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude; (ii) concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband; (iii) concealment of sexually transmissible disease or STD, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or (iv) concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage. However, no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage.

4. Force, intimidation or undue influence. If the consent of either party was obtained by any of these means, except in cases wherein the force, intimidation or undue influence has disappeared or ceased, the complaining party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife.

5. Impotence. At the time of marriage, either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable. Impotence is different from being infertile.

6. STD. If, at the time of marriage, either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. If the STD is not serious or is curable, it may still constitute fraud (see No. 3 above).

What annulment does?

According to a Philippine Legal Forum, annulment declares a valid marriage void. This is different from a “declaration of nullity” that says a marriage is void to begin with.

Also, unlike a declaration of nullity, a person must file for an annulment within the period of time mandated by the Family Code of the Philippines. For example, a person must file for an annulment on the basis of fraud “within five years after the discovery of the fraud.”

After a couple annuls their marriage, they both have the option to remarry.  

A person may also file for legal separation, but this maintains his or her marriage to the other party; thus, this person cannot remarry. The grounds for legal separation, which include physical violence, are also different from those of annulment.

Grounds for annulment

Based on Article 45 of the Family Code, there are six grounds for annulment:

  • Lack of parental consent. The person who wants an annulment was over 18 but under 21 and married without parental consent—and that person did not choose to stay with his or her partner after turning 21.
  • Insanity. Someone from the couple “was of unsound mind” and did not choose to stay with his or her partner after regaining sanity.
  • Fraud (unless the person chooses to stay after finding out about the fraud). The grounds for fraud are in Article 46 of the Family Code and include a woman not telling her husband at the time of their marriage that she was pregnant by another man, and a person concealing his or her drug addiction or alcoholism.
  • Force (unless the person chooses to stay after these forceful actions have stopped). The person was frightened in a way that would force him or her to agree to marriage.
  • Impotence. Someone was “physically incapable of consummating the marriage” and may never be able to do so.
  • Sexually-transmitted disease (STD). “Either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.”
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